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Friday, April 17, 2009

Is It The Devil or Just My Own Temptation?

Most Christians do not know how to separate whether their own desires led them into sin or the devil who did so. I must admit that Satan is very involved in temptation but the Bible has said we should deal with Satan and temptation differently. This means that there is a difference between the two.

The Bible tells us to flee temptation and to resist the devil. The problem comes when we flee the devil and try to resist temptation. We nearly always fail.

Jesus was tempted by the devil. He resisted this evil one by giving the true meaning of God's word. The devil came naming and claiming the scriptures. Jesus responded with His Father's heart.

Temptation is common to people but not all things tempt everyone. Overspending for new clothes will tempt some people to neglect their tithe, their witness for the Lord and their abilities to do what God has called them to. People in tremendous debt are slaves to their lenders. Their own Christian service will be hindered by their debt. Their own desires bring them into sinfulness. Many people would never let clothing get them into this debt. They will be tempted by compromising their Christian principles to get an acting job so that they can be rich and famous. They will be tempted by a picture of a scantly clad woman. They will be tempted by some things that others are not tempted and vice-versa.

Temptation comes from three main desires: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. The lust of the flesh is to fulfill the desires of the flesh. This may be through sex or eating or anything that will make the flesh feel good. The lust of the eyes is the desire to have things. It drives the person into debt, fills their garages with unneeded stuff and keeps them always wanting more. The pride of life is the desire to have your name in lights. It is offended when others don't remember their names, know how important they are and disregard them.

Most people are not equally affected by each of these desires. Satan tempted Jesus through food (turn these stones into bread), wealth (bow down to me and I will give you all these riches), and who He is (Satan tempted Jesus to prove Himself as the Son of God. This is an issue of pride if He were to retake what He had given up to come to earth. He told Jesus to throw Himself from the pinnacle of the temple and prove He was the Son of God when the angels came to catch Him.). None of these temptations affected Jesus for He resisted the devil and fled from the temptation.

Desires exist within us. Adam and Eve had their desire before they ever met Satan in the garden. (We assume that was the day Satan and mankind met but they may have known each other for some time before the fall.) Eve's response about the fruit gives us some indication that she understood fleeing temptation. God had said they were not to eat the fruit. Eve added that they were not to touch it. Adam and Eve were fleeing temptation by not allowing themselves to touch it. There reasoning was that you can't eat what you don't touch.

Satan does not create the desire. He brings it into the forefront of our minds. He leads but does not control. He places fears, discouragements and insatiable cravings before us. He uses whatever means it takes. However, once the temptation becomes master of the person, he may not do anything at all. It is all us.

Once a man came to me to ask how he could overcome his problem with pornography. I told him to avoid the magazine racks. (Up until this man came to me I thought pornography was found in smutty magazines.) He told me that he was spending $400 a month on pornography. He was into videos, live shows and I didn't want to know what else. I realized that the devil didn't have to do anything with making him sin. His own temptation was running rampant. Could there have been a junior demon who still taunted this man? Sure, but I don't want to start blaming it all on someone or something else. Some times it is just us.

The Bible tells us to set our hearts on the Spirit and we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh. This is a constant action. It is not an attempt at being perfect but a desire that our hearts belong to our God.

So, what are you tempted by? Do not get near it. Tell some good Christian friends to pray for you. Tell them that you would like to become accountable to them. Meet with them regularly and be honest in your failures and successes. Flee this temptation with all your heart.

Then, you will truly have Satan's attention. He will tell you that you must have your desires that tempt you into sin. You tell him to go to hell where he belongs. You tell him of God's love through Jesus Christ. You tell him that he must leave you because you belong to Jesus. You fight back and pull no punches.

Make no mistake. Satan is very active in the world today. He gives every sign that his days are short. He acts like a scared animal who is about to be captured and put away. He is doing as much damage as possible to destroy those who the Lord loves.

Resist the devil. He will flee from you.

Just a final note: Each time that I have written about Satan, something has happened. The blog before this one I had Vista decide to do one of its infamous updates and shut down my computer right at the end of the blog. This morning at the end of writing this blog our server went down and it would not reboot. We are all kept from the internet until we can get this fixed. I was not able to publish this blog until I copied it over to word processing, brought my laptop to Panera Bread and connected to the internet. Each time I say something about Satan this happens. It makes you wonder if he is involved.

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